Abigail Klein Leichman
March 7, Updated March 13

By now, everyone knows that the Israeli culinary scene is a world-class affair. A visit to Israel can include the best restaurant meals imaginable (not to mention the famed Israeli hotel breakfast buffet). 

We also know that now is not an easy time to visit Israel. Fortunately for your taste buds, many chefs of Israeli origin are cooking up masterpieces in major cities across the globe. 

Inbal Baum of Delicious Israel calls them “food heroes.”

Baum, who ordinarily leads food tours in Tel Aviv and Jerusalem, has taken her show on the road during the war. Delicious Cities gives Americans a taste of hybrid dishes being created by Israeli chefs in New York, and soon in Miami and Philadelphia. 

“When Israeli chefs leave Israel to explore other places but are connected in their hearts to Israel, they have a bit more freedom to experiment, to mix it up in how they play with the food,” Baum tells ISRAEL21c. 

“They have to be preservationists– preserving the history, authenticity and identity of the foods they are creating from their own cultures — and they have to be innovators as well.”

Israeli chefs are winning accolades from the likes of Michelin and James Beard for their innovative combinations of ingredients and spices, daring twists on traditional dishes, and overall chutzpah in the kitchen.

“We’re so proud of how they shine the light on Israeli foods that are near and dear to us, whether simple street foods or Michelin-starred foods or anything in between,” says Baum.  

ISRAEL21c serves up a list of 18 Israeli chefs whipping up award-winning food and where to find them around the world.

United States


Alon Shaya is chef-partner of Pomegranate Hospitality, which includes Saba (Hebrew for “Grandpa”) in New Orleans, Safta (Grandma) in Denver, and Miss River and Chandelier Bar at the Four Seasons Hotel New Orleans. 

The James Beard Foundation named Shaya “Best Chef, South” in 2015, and his restaurant won “Best New Restaurant” the following year. His culinary influence has been lauded by Southern Living, The Daily Meal, Eater and Esquire.

Born in the working-class Tel Aviv suburb of Bat Yam, his family moved to Philadelphia when he was just four. But most of his restaurants have paid homage to the food of his homeland, as described in his cookbook/memoir, Shaya: An Odyssey of Food, My Journey Back to Israel.


Michael Solomonov’s five-time James Beard Award-winning Zahav (Hebrew for “gold”) restaurant in Philadelphia has been winning accolades since its opening in 2008. 

He and Steven Cook own a clutch of Philly eateries under the CookNSolo banner: Federal Donuts, Dizengoff (in homage to the famed Tel Aviv boulevard) K’Far (“village,” named for a bakery he once worked at in the Israeli city of Kfar Saba), Goldie, Laser Wolf and Lilah. Branches of Laser Wolf and K’Far have also opened in Brooklyn.

Solomonov co-wrote Zahav: A World of Israeli Cooking and Israeli Soul, appeared in Roger Sherman’s “In Search of Israeli Cuisine” and launched the Zahav Foods line of hummus.


Israel’s top 18 chefs worldwide
Chef Yoav Schverd was a reality TV star in Israel. Photo courtesy of Yoav Schverd

Shuk salad, schnitzel sandwich, hummus masabacha, communal kosher-style Shabbat dinners with free arak shots — all these Israeli staples and much more are on the generous menu at Nua, the place to sample modern Mediterranean cuisine in Beverly Hills since 2021.

Hailing from Rishon LeZion on the coast, and a former reality TV star in Israel, Chef Yoav Schverd infuses his food with flavors of the Mediterranean, Middle Eastern, European, Asian and African cultures that surrounded him. 

“The zhug we serve with the arayes (ground beef and tahini in a pita) is Yemenite, the Borekas Sabic (puff pastry with potatoes, eggplant, tomato, pickles, shredded egg and tahini) is what Iraqi Jews used to eat every Saturday morning. Shakshuka is served all over the Middle East. It’s a real melting pot,” Schverd told ISRAEL21c in 2022.


Influenced by Jaffa’s Abu Hassan hummus joint, among other Middle East street foods, Los Angeles-born and Israeli-raised Ori Menashe opened Bavel in 2018 in downtown Los Angeles. The 2021 cookbook Bavel: Modern Recipes Inspired by the Middle East shares recipes for popular dishes such as tomato with smoked harissa, turmeric chicken with toum, and date-walnut tart.

In 2012, Menashe and his wife-partner opened Bestia, an Italian “comfort food” restaurant, and most recently Saffy’s in East Hollywood, which serves kebabs, falafel and shawarma.

Food & Wine magazine named him one of its 10 Best New Chefs for 2015, calling him “a meat virtuoso” specializing in house-made charcuterie in addition to “impeccable pastas and pizza.”


Einat Admony – who honed her cooking skills in the Israeli army – has created a buzz in New York, New Jersey, Washington DC and Maryland with her falafel joints and her 2022 James Beard-nominated New York fine-dining establishment Balaboosta, where her Persian and Yemenite background meets the Middle and Far East. She also wrote the cookbooks Balaboosta and Shuk, with Janna Gur. 

Inbal Baum’s favorite example of Admony’s ingenuity is the Yemenite soup dumpling at Balaboosta, which combines a dim sum-style dumpling with Yemenite soup, served with zhug and other Yemenite flavors.

“It’s an incredible combination of her history and New York’s Chinese immigrant history and what’s popular today. Is this Israeli food? It comes from an Israeli woman with an Israeli soul, it’s Yemenite and it’s Chinese. This is what food heroes have the space to do,” says Baum.


Tal Ronnen, raised in a Jerusalem suburb, founded the West Hollywood vegan restaurant Crossroads Kitchen in 2013. The extensive menu includes dishes such as eggplant short ribs and cacciatore based on lentil tempeh, pumpkin seed tofu or Impossible Chicken.

He wrote The Conscious Cook, a New York Times bestseller, and Crossroads: Extraordinary Recipes from the Restaurant That Is Reinventing Vegan Cuisine, and has catered vegan feasts for Oprah Winfrey, Arianna Huffington, Ellen DeGeneres and Portia de Rossi, and the US Senate.

Ronnen is the co-creator of Kite Hill plant-based “dairy” products, board member for Impossible Foods and contributing chef to the Culinary Institute of America’s Plant-Forward Kitchen project. He is a collaborating chef for all 12 restaurants at the Wynn and Encore hotels in Las Vegas.


Branja Miami, Tom Aviv’s American branch of his Tel Aviv chain, opened in January 2023, is described as “bringing regional Israeli flavors with eclectic global palates.” 

Aviv, born and raised in Tel Aviv, broke onto the Israeli food scene after winning the “MasterChef” TV cooking competition in 2016 despite having no formal culinary training.

In Branja Miami’s semi-open outdoor dining room, guests sit at handcrafted terrazzo-top tables and reclaimed synagogue benches, surrounded by retro art vignettes representing neighborhoods of Tel Aviv. The menu features items such as “Fishwarma” and “Tuktuk Kebab” with lemongrass, tamarind and cauliflower puree.


Jaffa Miami Israeli Kitchen and Wine Bar is where to find authentic Levantine fare in this Florida hotspot, including shakshuka, falafel, hummus, baba-ganoush, shawarma, sabich, kibbeh, and all the rest. 

Executive Chef Yaniv Cohen offers a kosher-style, dairy-free menu with glatt kosher meat and a selection of vegan dishes and Israeli wines.

Formerly a private chef and culinary director for Shiraz Events, Cohen directed events for Louis Vuitton, Prada, and Dior and celebrities including Cindy Crawford and David Bowie. After over a decade of events planning and catering, he struck out on his own with Jaffa in 2018, bringing his North African and Middle Eastern roots to St. Roch Market Miami. He also writes a blog, The Spice Detective



Without a doubt, Yotam Ottolenghi is the Israeli cooking king of the UK. 

He co-owns eight (soon to be nine) delis and restaurants in London and coauthored more than a dozen cookbooks including the one-word-titled Ottolenghi, Sweet, Plenty, Jerusalem, Flavour, Falastin and Comfort.

He and fellow chef/business partner Sami Tamimi hail from Jerusalem and have merged their Jewish and Arabic culinary traditions in London since 2002. 

“Ottolenghi represented what was in Israel so well in a place that hadn’t explored it yet and didn’t have the simplicity of great vegetables and spices he was using,” says Inbal Baum. “He wasn’t doing anything outrageous, just taking the simplicity and doing it well.”


These married Israeli chefs and cookbook authors started their careers in the kitchens of Ottolenghi establishments and went on to open four Middle Eastern-inspired Honey & Co. eateries in London.

They have also published four cookbooks: Honey & Co Food From The Middle East, Honey & Co The Baking Book, Honey & Co At Home and Chasing Smoke: Cooking Over Fire Around the Levant

A peek at the Bloomsbury location’s menu reveals strong Israeli-Mideast influences in dishes such as spiced pumpkin falafel with tomato & clementine salad, tahini and silan; labaneh with celeriac, caper salsa, crispy Jerusalem artichokes and sourdough crostini; slow-cooked lamb with aubergine and pomegranate molasses, baked in pita bread; and sea bass and harissa baked with tahini, tomatoes, pine nuts and parsley.


Eran Tibi (who also got his start with Ottolenghi, back in 2008) is owner and executive chef of nine-year-old Bala Baya in South London, one of the most-booked restaurants in the city in 2022; and the newer Kapara in Soho, a flirty LGBT-friendly bar and restaurant infused with Israeli culture. 

Billed as “adventurous Tel Aviv eating,” Bala Baya has “everything needed to make a mini Tel Aviv” including a pita oven, homemade gazoz, Bauhaus architecture and an Israeli music soundtrack.

@erantibi #WorldHummusDay is the holiest day on our calendar. Coming up this weekend, we know how we’re expressing our devotion! ????????.. . . . #hummusday #sexyfood #erantibi #foodisart #hummusrecipe #hummusporn #easternspice #fusionrecipes #timeoutlondon #michelinlondon #hummusart #hummuslover #pita #foodinspo #telavivrestaurant #israelifood ♬ original sound – Eran Tibi

Tibi’s father was a Tunisian-born baker and his mother was a Syrian Jew, making his childhood all about cultural fusion. He has said that his earliest memories are helping his mother trim okra as soon as he could hold a knife. 


Gal Ben Moshe established Prism in Berlin with his wife and business partner, Jacqueline Lorenz, in 2012. The short menu (a choice of scallops, foie gras, octopus, duck, madai or aubergine) is complemented by a wine list of some 530 labels.

Michelin awarded a star to Prism in 2020, explaining: “In a chic, minimalist ambience, chef-owner Gal Ben Moshe offers up exciting cuisine that gives a nod to his Israeli roots as well as to modern European standards. His interesting dishes, made from excellent ingredients, are replete with contrasts and varying flavours.” 

Ben Moshe said Prism’s guiding forces are “the smell of white charcoal and thoughts of history and roots of the flavors of the Levant.”


Joseph Hadad built his reputation in his early 30s as head chef of the King David Hotel in Jerusalem — hosting the likes of Bill Clinton, Madonna, Francois Mitterrand and George H. W. Bush.

He moved to Bucharest in 1997 and still has two restaurants going strong: Caju brasserie (“where Joseph brings to table the tastes of his childhood, with strong Mediterranean influences”) and Mace (“the meeting point between a gastronomic journey and a Middle East cultural experience”).

The decidedly international Caju menu has a “Jerusalem Style” section that includes a plate of hummus, tahina, matboucha, eggplant salad and Moroccan salad; Egyptian falafel; and traditional mixed Jerusalem: chicken thighs and liver with ras-el-hanout, sesame paste, pickled cucumber, tomato and onion with sumac.


Roy Ner left Israel in his early 20s to hone his culinary skills, ending up in Sydney’s Le Cordon Bleu. 

After cooking at a string of Australian steakhouses, he partnered with a restaurant consultant and began opening high-end Middle Eastern-style restaurants, including Nour in 2016. For the first time in Sydney, diners could find fare from Ner’s home region beyond kebabs, hummus and falafel.

The newest incarnation is Jeru, Ner’s London eatery opened in 2021. Billed as a “pan-Mediterranean celebration,” three-story complex also includes Layla cocktail bar and Grain & Grape bakery and wine bar. Some of the more unusual menu items include wood-fired potato bread with truffle honey and chickpea miso butter and halloumi doughnuts  with goat milk curd, lemon and truffle honey.



When Israeli super-chef Eyal Shani won a Michelin star for his Manhattan restaurant Shmoné (Eight) in November, he skipped the award ceremony because he was busy cooking meals, voluntarily, for Israeli troops embroiled in the Gaza war.

Shmoné is one of seven New York-based eateries owned by Shani and his business partners. In fact, it’s hard to find a major city anywhere that doesn’t have a restaurant by the “MasterChef Israel” judge whose signature roasted cauliflower is a culinary legend.

Among his 40-something establishments on several continents, Shani and partner Shahar Segal run the Miznon pita sandwich empire with branches in Vienna, Melbourne, Paris, New York, Singapore, Tel Aviv and London. The Times Square location, one of four in Manhattan, recently went kosher. Barcelona, Prague, Amsterdam and Berlin will be the next cities to get a Miznon.

The pair also own HaSalon restaurants in New York and Miami.

@eyaltomato בואו לעבוד איתי, לינק להרשמה אצלי בפרופיל #טרנד #איילשני #עבודה ♬ الصوت الأصلي – ????

Shani told As Promised magazine: “Israeli cuisine is a Viennese schnitzel wrapped in Japanese seaweed and called sushi. It’s a cuisine in which nothing is sacred. It absorbs everything that happens outside and is influenced by it. In most cases very embarrassing things happen as a result. But, in the end, the fast and flexible environment created a spectacular cuisine, one of the best in the world, in my opinion.”


Fancy an Israeli-style Sunday brunch in Singapore? No problem, just go to Moroccan Israeli chef Meir Adoni’s restaurant Aniba.

You’ll dip challah in mezze such as paprika aioli, matbucha, okra whipped goat cheese & aubergine, butternut-eggplant tershi & labneh, and hummus with a soft-boiled egg. Then you can try concoctions such as Arak-Cured Salmon Gravlax & Roasted Beetroots Salad, Aniba Style Eggplant Carpaccio, Mediterranean Caesar Salad Arais, Yemenite Pancake-Wrapped Fish Kebab and Ocean Sausage Shakshuka. Don’t forget the malabi for dessert.

Adoni also brings a Jewish/Middle Eastern flavor to his restaurants Layla in Berlin and Samna in Kyiv, with a London location coming soon.

“As a chef, the first thing I bring to the table is tradition. I respect the original flavors and ingredients. Only then do I add my crazy interpretation, launching the dish off to new and uncharted territory,” Adoni said.


Visitors flying into Israel will see the face of Assaf Granit on billboards all around Ben-Gurion International Airport. This critically acclaimed chef recently took on the task of upgrading the menu for Israel’s national airline, El Al.

Granit and his partners in the MachneYuda Group, including noted chef Uri Navon, run Coal Office, Barbary and Palomar in London; and the Michelin-starred Shabour in Paris.

Back home, MachneYuda runs restaurants in Jerusalem, Tel Aviv and Tiberias. Granit is also an Israeli TV personality on shows such as “The Next Restaurant,” “Chef Games” and “Kitchen Revolution,” endorses a line of cookware, and works with Nevet, an organization providing 1.3 million healthy sandwiches each year to disadvantaged children in schools across Israel.

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